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What You Need to Know About Your VIN

Your vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) is what sets it apart from other vehicles and it includes important information about the appearance of your car as well as its origins. The VIN also makes it possible for CARFAX Canada to compile relevant information about the vehicle’s history, including prior accidents, outstanding liens, registration and branding information and more. So where can you find your VIN and what does it mean? Read on to learn more.

Where can I find the VIN?

The VIN can be found on the vehicle’s dashboard, looking in from the windshield on the driver’s side. On many vehicles it can also be located on the door jamb/post and inside the driver’s side door (where it latches). The VIN also appears on documents such as the vehicle ownership, insurance documents and service records. If you do not have direct access to the vehicle, ask the seller to provide it for you.

Do the characters in a VIN mean anything?

The numbers used in each VIN do in fact mean something and the various combinations identify the manufacturer as well as the make, model and year. Here’s a look at how the numbers break down:

vin description

What if the VIN is not 17 characters long?

Vehicles with VINs shorter than 17 digits in most cases were manufactured prior to 1981 and will not decode. This means that CARFAX Canada will not be able to identify the year, make and model for the vehicle. CARFAX Canada can however, still report any vehicle history information collected and archived by our data providers. Keep in mind that only information inputted into computer databases and stored can be retrieved by CARFAX Canada. For example, paper records are not available.

How can I verify my VIN?

You should check each of the VIN locations on your car to make sure the number is the same in each place. Look at these areas and examine them for signs of tampering – check for loose rivets, scratched numbers, mismatched rivets, screws in place of rivets, or tape, glue or paint over the VIN area. Match this number to the number found on the vehicle’s original vehicle registration form (not a photocopy) and check that this form also has the correct year, model, make and colour. Lastly, you can use CARFAX Canada’S free VIN decoder to reveal the vehicle’s characteristics. You can compare these results to the actual vehicle and the ownership to see if they all match up.